44 Harry Kemp Way Provincetown, MA 02657 PHA@ProvincetownHousing.org 508-487-0434

Old Glory flies again!

Maushope News

After a long absence Old Glory flies again at the Maushope Building owned by the Provincetown Housing Authority.  This week a new flag pole was installed at the Maushope Building which houses 24 seniors and people with disabilities.

”The old flag pole was broken for over two years and it was a priority for us to get it replaced”, said Provincetown Housing Authority director Kristin Hatch, “especially because housing Veterans is a big part of our mission.” The first flag flown on the new pole is in honor of a local female Veteran WAVE who was in the service, met her partner there, and went on to own and operate a group of cottages at the Truro town line for many years. Veterans and their spouses are one of the criteria considered for selection in Housing Authorities across the nation.

 

Housing Authority buys Alden Street units

PROVINCETOWN — The Provincetown Housing Authority has purchased three affordable one-bedroom condominium units at the Grace Gouveia building after a two-year dispute between the Community Development Partnership (CDP) and developer New Ventures/26 Alden Street LLC caused an earlier plan to acquire the units to fall apart.

“The negotiations for the three affordable units between the Provincetown Housing Authority (PHA) and 26 Alden LLC have been resolved,” Town Manager David Panagore wrote in a Dec. 14 letter to the selectmen. ”[New Ventures] and PHA have agreed that in return for a $10,000 payment per unit, [it] will convey the three affordable units in the Grace Gouveia building to the Provincetown Housing Authority, which will continue to rent them to eligible households.”

In the original agreement, Panagore said, the units were to be rented through the CDP, but the CDP is no longer part of the deal.

In August, the CDP abandoned its plan to purchase and manage the three affordable units leaving New Boston Ventures and 26 Alden Street LLC holding the title and managing the property.

According to CDP attorney Bonnie-Jean Nunheimer of LaTanzi Spaulding & Landreth in Orleans, the reason they ditched the project was potential problems with the unit’s financial viability and what she called “defective deeds.” In addition, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank said it wasn’t willing to make loans on the property until the title issues were cleared up.

Furthermore, the CDP Board of Directors refused to purchase the units unless the title was clear. To do that, there would need to be a “quiet title” court action to dispose of any challenges or claims and clear the title. But Jay Coburn, the CDP’s executive director, told the Banner in August that the seller wouldn’t go along with that plan and that the units would not be able to absorb the costs if there were problems.

Coburn added that it was not unusual to have title problems on Provincetown properties due to a Town Hall fire on Feb. 16, 1877 that destroyed many deeds. He also said that, since the nonprofit CDP uses public money, it needs to act prudently.

“I’m happy to support this now,” Selectman Erik Yingling said at a Dec. 15 roundtable meeting. “I don’t think it honors our original agreement, but I’m willing to give support. It’s a lesson learned. The language needs to be crystal clear. This is a bit unfaithful, but we need to move forward with the units and move on.”

And Selectman Tom Donegan agreed.

“This is a bitter pill,” he said. “If you watch the original presentation you see the outline of the deal. Let’s learn our lesson and make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.”

Provincetown Housing Specialist Michelle Jarusiewicz became aware of the falling out between CDP and the developers and turned to the housing authority, which oversees 46 units in Provincetown.

The housing authority purchased the three Alden Street units on Dec. 30 for $30,000 ($10,000 per unit) and is now assuming control over the rental and use of the units. The housing authority has also granted the town an affordable housing restriction to ensure that the units will be protected in perpetuity.

“The terms of this restriction will primarily come into play if the Regulatory Agreement that currently encumbers the property is terminated for any reason (typically if the owner has been in default),” wrote Panagore, adding that the restriction will ensure that, in such an event, the owner of the units will continue to be required to rent the units to eligible parties.

In addition to the restrictions, PHA also asked to tweak the eligibility and pricing from 80 percent to 65 percent of annual median income. Jarusiewicz said by email that the current rent for the units is around $900 each.

“Congratulations to the housing authority and thank you for all your work. It’s exciting and it’s a cool opportunity and a big step,” Selectman Cheryl Andrews said during the roundtable meeting.

In spite of this enthusiasm, Andrews didn’t support the decision. The board approved the motion 4-1, with Andrews in opposition, saying that even though she was supportive of the housing authority’s intentions it was not the selectmen’s original agreement.

Senior housing seen as ‘dire need’ in Provincetown

PROVINCETOWN — When the town’s council on aging moved into its new, expanded location in the summer of 2013, director Chris Hottle expected the upgrade to translate into increased visibility for the agency.

With office space in the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Community Center (the former elementary school), perhaps more residents would take note of the services it offers and begin to utilize them, she thought.

What she didn’t necessarily expect was a full 15 percent increase in its clientele base over the course of the next year.

“We had 800 people use the COA for one thing or another in 2014,” she said. “It’s hard to say exactly what it’s attributable to, but that’s a significant increase.”

The growth of the COA, which provides transportation and other social services to local residents ages 60 and older, might be partly explained by its new digs. But then, without any significant budget or staff increases in recent years, the answer might also be something more simple: Provincetown is getting older.

According to U.S. Census figures from 2010, more than one-third of all Provincetown residents are now over the age of 60. Even as the overall population declined from 3,431 in 2000 to 2,942 in 2010 — marking the first time the town’s population has dropped below 3,000 since 1970 — the number of residents ages 60 and older actually increased by almost 20 percent.

Compare that to a 24 percent decrease in the rest of the adult population, and it’s not surprising that the median age in Provincetown jumped from 45.4 to 52.3 during the last decade (Truro’s median age is 53.7; Wellfleet’s, 53.5; Eastham’s, 56.6; Orleans’, 58.9).

Barnstable County as a whole is older than the rest of the state, with 27.1 percent over the age of 65 versus the state’s 14.8 percent. From 2000 to 2010, the county’s median age rose from 44.6 to 49.9. (See chart for additional age facts by town.)

Despite the exodus of younger residents — Provincetown’s 14.25 percent population decline was proportionately the largest (with its relatively small population to begin with) in Barnstable Country, where 10 of the 14 other towns also lost population in the last decade — local officials are expecting the aging of the town’s demographic to only accelerate in the years ahead.

“The trend is certainly there, and they’ve been saying for a long time that by the 2020 census things will really be changing,” Hottle said.

For a town like Provincetown, which has traditionally skewed older than state averages, this is perhaps not surprising. People are living longer, the Baby Boomer generation is entering retirement age, and Provincetown continues to serve as a desirable retirement destination, especially for second-home owners who transition to full-time residents as they move into their senior years.

On top of that, many seniors already own their homes, allowing them to largely ignore the challenging combination of a struggling year-round economy, costly real estate and a limited rental housing market that has driven others out.

And yet, senior housing remains a major and sometimes overlooked priority for local officials tasked with improving the town’s housing woes.

“It doesn’t get the same attention [as affordable or median-income housing], but I would say it’s a dire need,” said Michelle Jarusiewicz, the town’s community housing specialist.

Current state

When asked to assess the areas in which local seniors are still under-served or have the greatest unaddressed need, Hottle was quick to answer.

“The first thing that comes to mind is housing,” she said. “I think it’s important that we’re keeping seniors in the [housing] dialogue, because there really is a specialized need there.”

Within view of the COA offices, the town’s biggest player in senior housing recognized that same need and has seized an opportunity to fill it.

Seashore Point, which also operates Provincetown’s only nursing home facility, completed construction of an 82-unit private residences wing last March.

The condos, which are billed as “independent living residences” for people 55 years and older, could eventually house more than 100 residents.

So far, the condos are more than 60 percent sold and the remaining 30 units could be filled within the year, said Seashore Point executive director Joanna Lovely.

The project has largely been heralded as a win for local senior housing, but at prices starting in the mid-$300,000s, they don’t entirely round out the market.

While Seashore Point works to sell off its remaining market-price condos, the project’s nine “affordable-level” units have already been filled and a small-but-growing waiting list has begun to form.

In Provincetown, it’s good to get in early.

Maushope, the town’s largest publicly funded senior housing complex, has an estimated seven- to 10-year wait list for one of its 24 units.

“It’s always been that way,” said Jarusiewicz, who named expanding affordable senior housing one of the town’s community housing council’s top priorities.

“Clearly, there’s a great need there,” she said.

Future plans

Over the past year, a major expansion at Maushope has been targeted as the solution to alleviating the affordable housing needs facing Provincetown seniors.

Considering the town’s well-documented land constraints, the town had hoped to build an addition onto the existing Maushope complex at 44 Harry Kemp Way or acquire adjacent land for new construction.

In theory, the existing site or surrounding area could support an expansion that doubles Maushope’s size, Jarusiewicz said. But first, it would need to scrap its current septic system and undergo a costly connection to the town’s municipal sewer system to increase its wastewater capacty.

The town applied for an $800,000 Massachusetts Community Development Block Grant to pay for the sewer connection, but were denied the funds over the summer.

Jarusiewicz said an expansion at Maushope remains a top priority, but momentum has stalled while town officials and the Provincetown Housing Authority determine their next course of action.

The town could reapply for the same state grant or pursue USDA funds that become available in 2015, she said.

“As always, it can be a slow process.

But we are still very optimistic about expanding at Maushope,” Jarusiewicz said.

Housing authority expansion in Provincetown inches slowly ahead

PROVINCETOWN — The plan to add low-income housing units to the Provincetown Housing Authority complex at 44 Harry Kemp Way has entered a new phase. At the last meeting of the Community Housing Council local leaders looked at possible designs for the enlarged complex. Housing specialist Michelle Jarusiewicz cautioned, however, that even under the best of circumstances it will take three to five years or even longer for the doors to open for new occupants.

Jarusiewicz, Kristin Hatch, the PHA representative on the CHC, and architect Paul Kelly of the Provincetown 365 housing workgroup were among those at the July meeting. Kelly had offered to look at the site and help jump-start the process of coming up with ideas for the expansion.

Jarusiewicz said she was impressed by Kelly’s use of the multi-unit property at 83 Shank Painter Road as a model for the new project on Harry Kemp Way. “It looks like a great option to consider,” she said.

Hatch said the potential number of new units at 44 Harry Kemp Way was significant. “Since the waiting list is years long, hopefully new PHA units will free up other units in town,” she said.
What is now energizing the PHA is the recent sale of town-owned property at 951R Commercial Street. Hatch said the property was given to the PHA by the town after being surrendered for tax title.

“This gives the [PHA] seed money for the expansion,” said Hatch. “Everything about it was challenging and costly.” Now the PHA can use the proceeds of the sale to expand its housing stock in a cost-effective way, she said. “The team effort it takes to get something like this done is what I love about this community. In the three years it took to get the property sold, so many people were involved in getting it done.”

She credited the PHA board and Executive Director Patrick Manning, Bob O’Malley from Beachfront Realty, attorney Robin Reed, the selectmen, the Community Development Department, the Zoning Committee, and the Planning Board for making the sale a reality.

“This was a big volunteer effort,” said Hatch. “There’s more work to be done for sure. It is a big step for the PHA to have sold 951R after 10 years, and to have its own starter money to be used on expansion. We hope it is just the momentum that we need to add more year-round units to town.”